Witches incite positive change in town
SELF-DESCRIBED white witch Jacquie Stallinga says the Christian community has finally accepted the Wedderburn New Age Festival.
Last month, organisers Ms Stallinga and Gaye Washington were accused by the Christian sector of "brainwashing the community with devil beliefs".
She said "anyone remotely involved in the festival has been attacked and accosted."
And while the churches denied making these statements, they "prayed to God to sort out the festival".
But the festival will go ahead on Saturday, after community outcry about the "closed-minded statements" by the church sector.
In an online Bendigo Advertiser poll, 2350 people agreed that the new age festival should go ahead, while only 122 people agreed with the church sector.
Ms Stallinga said the event had been a catalyst for change. "There was a hysterical, knee-jerk reaction, but common sense prevailed and I have heard the churches are a bit embarrassed about their response," she said.
"Sometimes you need to put mirrors like that in front of people so they take a damn good look at themselves.
"We had to stand up for our beliefs, even though it was frightening, because from chaos comes change."
While the four opposed churches have not apologised to the witches, they have agreed to support the festival if they can have a stall at Saturday's event.
"The town needs this, and in the spirit of reconciliation, we have agreed to let them be there - even though I wouldn't say Christianity is all that new age," Ms Stallinga said.
"This whole experience has been a huge lesson for me in live and let live."
Ms Stallinga said she'd "felt like a rockstar" since the Bendigo Advertiser article was published. "We've had more people book stalls, and when visiting Bendigo recently, I must have had at least 20 people come up to me and say good on you, keep doing what you're doing," she said.
"So while some may be kicking and screaming, it's been truly amazing to see how open-minded most people are."
The festival will be held this Saturday at the Wedderburn Community House.